Daniel Abbott | Teach First

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Daniel Abbott

  • Studied: Physics, Cardiff University
  • Taught: Science, London
  • Now: Science teacher and curriculum leader of Key Stage 3, London

Physics gets extremely abstract, especially in the third or fourth year of your degree, but the physics I love explains the everyday things that happen around us. I wanted to share that love of learning and investigating with other people. I wanted to share that passion. 

At school, one challenge is trying to get pupils enthused, but I try to do that by conveying my enthusiasm and making it relevant. That gets them on board. Sometimes you feel there are a couple of pupils who have fully grasped a concept, and these small victories are amazing. That’s why I got into teaching. When someone comes up and says “Sir, I was thinking about what you were saying…” it’s amazing, when you have that breakthrough. 

My favourite lesson ever was about Edwin Hubble, the astronomer. I’d dress up and pretend to be him. It sounds quite bizarre, but the pupils loved that lesson. They can’t recall every fact, but they remember a lot of it, because they remember me standing there with a pipe and shouting with an American accent! 

I love physics and I think that comes across in my teaching. If I get the opportunity, I’ll talk about it outside of work. It also means I’ll go above and beyond for my pupils: A 20-minute chat about electromagnetism isn’t work to me, it’s not a chore. 

After doing a teaching placement in the first year of my degree I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I looked at different routes into teaching and the heavily practical side of the Leadership Development Programme (LDP) was what I wanted. I liked the idea of six weeks of intense training, and then to largely train and learn on the job. The opportunities the LDP has opened have been significant. I’m seeing the benefits of that now as I progress and develop myself as a leader. 

In physics there are so many jobs that are academic, where you’ll use a lot of your degree, but I call on my subject knowledge every day and I get to share that with hundreds of people – not just with pupils, but with chemistry, physics and biology colleagues, and with parents – and I absolutely love it.